Dustin Poirier has taken some heat from fans and even his fighter peers for not accepting a last-minute opponent over the weekend. But he's standing by his decision -- and he maintains that it was the right one.
Poirier's original foe Joseph Duffy sustained a concussion just three days before the two men were supposed to meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night 76 on Saturday in Dublin, Ireland. In Duffy's place, the UFC offered Poirier a fight with Norman Parke, who was supposed to face Reza Madadi on the card. Poirier turned it down.
"If I would have thought like fans think, I'd be broke and brain dead and fighting everybody every weekend," Poirier told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "Hey, I'm a prizefighter and the prize wasn't right. So we came back home and we'll see what happens next. It's that simple. I was there to hold up my end of the bargain. Norman Parke was there trying to save his career."
The negativity from fans didn't really bother Poirier. However, hearing it from his fellow fighters was kind of a blow and surprise.
"It does piss me off," he said. "They see an opportunity to get their name on a headline or something. They're just trying to jump on an opportunity. And I understand that. But it's kind of ridiculous on my end."
Parke, who defeated Madadi by unanimous decision, has bashed Poirier on Twitter for not taking the fight. "The Diamond" thinks he did Parke a service.
"Dude, he should be happy he fought the guy he fought," Poirier said. "He'd be getting his walking papers this week. I would have ended his career. He should thank me."
Poirier, 26, said he felt absolutely no pressure from UFC brass to stay on the card and fight Parke. He said he got a call from Joe Silva, who told him the news, and later spoke with UFC president Dana White.
"[White] said, 'Hey kid, we're gonna try to reschedule this fight,'" Poirier said. "'If you really think you want to fight, if you think you have to fight, we have a fight for you. If not, don't feel like the show is riding on your shoulders.'"
Poirier added: "If Dana and Joe were telling me, 'Hey, we really need you here on this card, do us a solid and stay on the card,' I probably would have done it. But that wasn't the vibe I was getting. It was, 'We'll reschedule this thing, sh*t happens.' That's the vibe I was getting."
In a perfect world, Poirier would fight Duffy in a rescheduled bout relatively soon. But Poirier said he ran into Duffy's manager in Dublin and he said the Irishman might not be back until February. Poirier does not want to wait that long to get back in the Octagon. Does that open the door for what would now be a grudge match between Poirier and Parke?
(Editor's note: Poirier vs. Duffy was scheduled for UFC 195 on Jan. 2 in Las Vegas, it was announced Wednesday on UFC Tonight.)
"Norman Parke needs to stay off of Twitter before he gets himself in a fight he can't win," Poirier said. ... "I'd have to talk to my coaches, but the fighter in me, because he's talking and saying all this stuff now, it makes me want to whoop his ass."
Poirier (18-4) has won two straight by first-round knockout since moving back up to lightweight following a loss to Conor McGregor. Overall, the American Top Team product has won five of his last six fights. It's hard to blame Poirier for wanting a premier fight and he did not feel Parke represented that, especially on just three days notice.
"I'm at ease with the decision," Poirier said. "Before seeing him fight, I knew he was a boring fighter that I could have beat. That wasn't the thing. It was just the whole principle of the guy I was gonna fight and the hype he had behind him and being in his hometown. I trained 12 weeks for that guy. Norman is not a tough fight."